The atavistic tenor of American politics can’t help but creep in, and Parnes doesn’t shy away from it, but nor does she produce some kneejerk “the arts, more than ever!” angle of plea. Bougatsos wanders around the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where young black boys carried signs with Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, and Alton Sterling’s names while women held a pro-choice counter-demonstration. The positing of artists as agents of change (because the people in actual positions of power in society have failed so miserably) is something of a fallacy, mostly serving to assuage the conscience of cultural institutions, and here we more realistically see brilliant artists and writers witnessing, weaving, and working their way through the trouble.
— Paige Kathrine Bradley, GARAGE Vice, 2018
I wanted to capture a rawness and urgency, the kind of performance that you just can’t get through scripting. Playing with the idea of authenticity, and also capturing a period of time in New York that is fleeting.
— Laura Parnes, Creative Independent, 2019
It refers to classic hybrid films such as This Is Spinal Tap or Medium Cool but with the improvisation there is constant slippage into reality. It’s an ode to underground artists, where the performers are encouraged to be both petty and profound. They are all natural comedians so the result is absurdly comedic and occasionally shocking.
— Q&A with Laura Parnes, Lightbox, 2018
Tour Without End is artist Laura Parnes’ invitation to enter the colorful and conscientious world of American independent rock musicians of the ’90’s to the present. These musicians sought (and still seek) to fuse musical expression with political action, formal experimentation, and other dialectically rigorous endeavors. The resulting film is strikingly unique: a hybridized documentary, narrative comedy, which utilizes the subjects of the film as non-actors playing themselves in an exploration of identity, representation, and the arts. It features Kate Valk (The Wooster Group), Lizzi Bougatsos (Gang Gang Dance), Johanna Fateman (Le Tigre), Kathleen Hanna (Julie Ruin, Bikini Kill), among others.
— Greg Bortnichak, SFF, 2018
The new film by the convention-busting Laura Parnes features an all-star parade of downtown legends (from Gary Indiana to Kathleen Hanna) as it follows a fictional rock band, Munchausen, navigating New York’s alternative music scene in the midst of rapid gentrification.
— Chris Stults, Wexner Center for the Arts, 2019
Following the fictional band Munchausen through New York’s alternative music scene, Laura Parnes’s satirical doc-fiction hybrid Tour Without End chronicles a milieu pinched by local hyper-gentrification and spun by national politics. Supported by a veritable who’s who of downtown luminaries (Eileen Myles, Gary Indiana, Kathleen Hanna, K8 Hardy, and more) playing versions of themselves, Munchausen (played by the The Wooster Group’s Kate Valk and New York City Players’ Jim Fletcher) serve as our guide to a contemporary DIY world as vibrant as it is precarious (of the 14 venues featured in the film, at least four have been forced to shutter). Elder statesman of New York bohemia, Munchausen thread the needle between several decades of New York art subcultures, mixing with an intergenerational group of artists and taking a long view of a shared culture dominated by the young. Shot between 2014 and early 2018, the film never leaves the political situation far from the frame, with our players entering the eye of the storm on a brief sojourn to Cleveland during the RNC and rallying the community in the post-election spiral, exemplified by a show stopping performance by The Julie Ruin the night after Trump’s election. Between performances by bands like Eartheater, Shannon Funchess, Macy Rodman and Youthquake, Parnes stages semi-scripted scenes creating a portrait of a living artistic community; gossiping backstage, humoring tone-deaf marketing pitches, enduring patronizing interviewers, comforting one another, enjoying each other’s work, and attempting to make sense of our increasingly disturbing historical moment.
— Nellie Killian, Film Comment, 2018
Tour Without End upsets and delights and pulls off this feat of representing diverse and opposing elements in one body of work while commenting on an America that seems unable to pull off the same stunt with as much grace, humor, and gravity.
— Stephanie Barber, BOMB, 2018
The conversation turns into probably the most provocative ménage à trois known to cinema. I felt challenged to step up to a more advanced understanding of what can be sexy or sexual. This suggestion of sex continuing despite capitalism’s tight grip on “what is sexy” seems a perfect encapsulation of your larger idea of music and performance continuing beyond the halcyon days of dewy sale-ability.
— Stephanie Barber, BOMB, 2018